Getting under max weight is scary, if anyone tells you otherwise they're lying. Feeling the pressure of the bar compressing your spine, fighting to get a breath of air, the incredible amount of pressure building within your body, the feeling that your head is about to explode, not knowing if something will rip, tear or snap, will you come back up? It’s scary, but you NEVER approach the bar scared. You can’t, because you know if you do the battle is already lost. In that moment it’s just another insurmountable challenge. Where does your mind go in that moment?
Normal people don’t think about squatting 800 lbs or benching 500 lbs, why would they enjoy putting their body through this. Us powerlifters who think about these things day and night are messed up. We are all mentally screwed up a little to want to do this. Whether it stems from being picked on as kids, a compensation for being the chubby little fat kid, a way to release the tension and frustration we build up during the day. It’s therapy for us and the only way for us to display our deep pent up aggression without doing something horrible to ourselves or others
So how do you deal with that moment when your name is called and you’re faced with a loaded bar? You know what’s to come and you know you can’t walk in there weak. The mentally weak never reach the extreme levels because their mind can’t handle what their body is capable. The elite are composed of people who can become complete savages on the drop of a dime. They are capable of taking their mind to deep dark places normal people can’t imagine
I remember when Swede gave a presentation at our gym and he explained how he can turn it on like a light switch and get so dark that he can start crying. Here's a grown man that can bring himself to tears by looking at a barbell. It makes you wonder what could possibly be going through their mind. You probably don’t even want to know. This is what it takes though. You can’t deal with this type of challenge thinking about walking your dog in the park this weekend, you need to become a different person, a person that scares even yourself, if only long enough to make the lift
Each person will take their mind to a different place. Some people think about all the moments that brought about uncontrollable anger throughout their lives, and others don’t even think at all, they just zone out the world and lift
Where does my mind go?
I think about my family aging. When I was young I pictured figures in my life such as my grandparents and parents as such strong individuals. Physically strong and mentally strong. My grandpa was a world war II vet and had a collection of weights in his basement. He trained and got strong, he taught my dad to train and become strong. My dad took these lessons and equipment and built a gym in our basement when I was growing up. My dad pushed me to lift with him and taught me how to train. He told me stories about how big and strong my grandpa and his dad became. I always looked up to them and strived to lift as much weight as my dad one day. All I wanted to do was lift big weights like my dad.
Now I see them getting older. It is harder for them to move, they constantly carry aches and pains with them. Training is an afterthought, just getting through the day is hard enough sometimes. They are not physically the people I knew when I was young. Age catches up to us all eventually. It is hard for me to watch. People that were a representation of such strength to me are becoming weaker. So my mind goes here… They may be weaker but I will become stronger to make up for it. I will carry the weight of my family on my back when I lift. I do it to represent them and make them proud. They might not be as strong as they used to be but I will damn sure get stronger for them. I represent the strength of my family in my lifting
This is where my mind goes when I get under that bar. It’s a big F U to father time. Sure I get nervous as hell before the lift, so much could potentially go wrong in that moment, but once I touch that bar it all disappears. I am motivated to display great strength, I am engaged in the moment, and there is no more thinking… there is only getting the job done
Staying strong for your family might not be your motive but whether it is driven by anger or love, your mind needs to go to that unique place. You can’t be focused on your wellbeing. If you are concerned with perfect health and longevity then there are other outlets of training for you. Under that bar you are the human replicate of the devil. No amount of weight is going to stop you from doing what you have to do
So I ask you, where does your mind go? I’d love to hear what you think about when you approach the bar. Leave a comment or shoot me an email, I’m curious to what drives you.